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Trade Comment

The Importance of Trade Shows

With the rise of The Print Show and the collapse of IPEX, Harry Mottram asks “How important are trade shows to the industry?”

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Phil McMullin, sales manager, Epson UK

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Well-run and targeted trade shows offer an exceptional opportunity to showcase and demonstrate technology and applications to known and potential customers. Epson is a regular exhibitor, in Europe at shows like Drupa, LabelExpo and Photokina and in the UK at The Print Show, Sign & Digital UK, PPMA, The Photography Show, RBTE and Label and Print.

Exhibitions offer a shop window to the world, an opportunity to demonstrate equipment and impart ideas, concepts and key messages. Typically, on an Epson stand there will be printers but also the finished applications from our digital technology, which can be as varied as fashion to labels, promotional products to signage, photography to decor.

We see an exhibition as an opportunity to paint a picture of the profit potential of our varied technologies and to demonstrate our emphasis on quality.  We are there to educate and inform as well as to sell. We also like the opportunity to support our value-added resellers at exhibitions and to work on our stand with third party partners, be they suppliers of software, supplementary technology or media.

Trade shows remain vital because markets change and technology evolves rapidly

The visitor numbers and the profiling of the audience must be right and there also needs to be a ‘pulse’ to the event, an excitement that encourages visitors to explore and be involved. That is the joint responsibility of the organisers and the participants and without a doubt the more thought and planning that goes into a show and into stand, the better the results will be. It does astonish me when I see stands manned by staff busy on mobile phones, computers or paperwork showing no interest in passers-by. A proactive approach and engagement are critical to success.

Trade shows remain vital because markets change, and technology evolves rapidly. It is a great way for business people to keep pace, to view a wide range of technology in a timely manner and to discover new ways to develop and grow a business.

Face to face

Craig Bretherton, product and marketing manager, Koenig & Bauer

Trade shows are extremely important for the industry. However, it is sad that due to costs and reduced footfall in recent years the numbers and types of trade show have been scaled back or disappeared altogether. Koenig & Bauer had its most successful Drupa ever in 2016, which proves categorically that these events are still extremely important to manufacturers and customers.

Preparations are under way for the 2020 event and it promises to be a great success once again. It is important for a company like Koenig & Bauer to have a presence to demonstrate our technology and to illustrate where we are heading in the future.

The worlds of print and business are changing more rapidly than ever. These days, customers are more aware of your products as information can be obtained easily via the press of a screen or click of a mouse. Therefore, for new R&D innovations, it is even more important that a large trade show should be an event where products or concepts are introduced in a live setting in order to gauge the public’s reaction and to encourage them to come and see further live demonstrations as part of their evaluation process.

Koenig & Bauer had its most successful Drupa ever in 2016, which proves categorically that these events are still extremely important

From a networking point of view, a captive audience of major decision makers are generally at the major shows hoping to be shown things they have not seen before or to make contact and discuss projects they have lined up for their businesses. In both cases, this is the valuable face to face contact that cannot be achieved in the same way online. At the smaller regional events we ensure that we have a presence with smaller machines or a single machine, information booths or live video link ups to the factories in both Dresden and Würzburg. Once again, it is the personal contact you have at these events that can make all the difference to your future success.

Open house

Gerard Heanue, managing director, Heidelberg UK

Trade shows have their place in the marketing mix but without doubt the industry has seen shrinkage, culminating recently in Informa’s decision to discontinue IPEX. Heidelberg does not exhibit as much as it did 20 or 30 years ago. Back then it was primarily a press supplier, the potential customer base was much larger and off stand machine sales were entirely possible.

Today, Heidelberg is a comprehensive supplier of prepress, press (litho and digital), finishing, consumables, workflows and services. Equipment buying is more technical and the lead to sale time is much longer. Also, messages are often not about specific machines and more about concepts, be that the efficiency achievable with workflows and benchmarking or the Push to Stop capability where a machine intelligently processes work only interrupted rather than cranked up by the operator. Here its open houses (in the UK and Germany) with seminars or production tours work better and can be tailored to specific markets. This autumn in Brentford it is running a Digital Performance Open House (September 12th).

Trade shows have their place in the marketing mix but without doubt the industry has seen shrinkage

As a company we address a number of diff- erent markets including commercial printers, label converters and packaging companies. If it were to support exhibitions in all these areas in each geographical market it would be cost prohibitive. Bear in mind the cost of an exhibition goes well beyond the stand charge from the organiser; there is machine transport and installation, manpower, hotel costs and more. At the last UK show it attended, Heidelberg opted to show no equipment but to regard the event as a networking opportunity and its café bar was designed as a press delivery unit.

In developing markets, where new companies spring up, there is a greater purpose to exhibiting. It can create new opportunities. Certainly international shows like Drupa present a major showcase but the days when development cycles were geared around these shows are gone. Increased competition means developments are faster and launches continuous.

Support members

Bettine Pellant, chief executive officer, Picon,

Exhibitions provide an important means of raising profile, promoting products and creating new sales opportunities. Picon has supported its members (comprising of suppliers of printing, paper-making and converting equipment) at several shows, many of them abroad where export opportunities can be exploited.

Of course, Picon did at one stage own IPEX but sold it off more than a decade ago and recently Informa announced that this show would cease.  There has been change in the exhibition culture.  Not everyone can cost justify the expense of transporting and showing heavy equipment and with the trend towards more technical bespoke machine specifications it is rare to generate on stand machine sales (unless pre-planned).  The exhibition calendar needed to reduce and today it is Drupa that remains the key international show in Europe.

The UK benefits from local shows and specialist shows like The Print Show, and Packaging Innovations etc

The UK benefits from local shows and specialist shows like The Print Show, and Packaging Innovations etc.  This year for the first time, Picon will exhibit at The Print Show with a hospitality lounge (stand D30) where members exhibiting or visiting can rest, recuperate and network.

The main focus of an exhibition is to attract the right type and number of visitors with a focus on future sales, but it is also a place where exhibitors can network, exchange ideas and do business.  Often when we go to overseas exhibitions, our members report cementing or creating agency partnerships that give them good local support to expand their exports.

Likewise, there will be discussions between manufacturers and agencies or complementary suppliers at The Print Show.  By talking with, and learning from, our peers in the industry we gain valuable insights. 

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